Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

From self-doubt to self-belief: Defying Imposter Syndrome in scientific endeavors

Written by Anthony Ogliore, BS candidate, Saint Louis University, and participant in the 2023 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

A view of Brookings Hall on the Danforth Campus of Washington University in St. Louis

Participating in the Summer Research Program – Aging and Neurological Diseases track has been an incredibly positive experience for me. I have been assigned to the Purpose, Aging, Transitions, and Health (PATH) Lab, under the guidance of Patrick Hill, MA, PhD, who serves as principal investigator. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to collaborate closely with Payton Rule, a post-baccalaureate researcher, Jennifer Beatty, a graduate student, and Megan Wilson, MD, a postdoctoral researcher. Although the lab is small, I find great joy in this aspect as it enables me to establish personal connections with each individual I work alongside. Moreover, this close-knit environment facilitates a more profound comprehension of their research. 

During the initial phase of the summer program, Associate Professor Hill has been instrumental in providing me with a comprehensive introduction to the world of research. This approach to familiarizing myself with the research process before delving into my project has proven invaluable. As part of this immersive experience, I have had the privilege of partnering with different lab members every few days, collaborating closely with them on their ongoing projects. This dynamic arrangement has granted me a unique opportunity to contribute to diverse research endeavors and facilitated the development of my own comprehension of the intricacies involved in conducting successful research projects. By working alongside experienced researchers, I gained valuable insights into the methodologies, approaches, and challenges associated with scientific investigations, fostering a solid foundation to build my independent project in the coming weeks. 

Participating in the Summer Research Program has not only been a tremendous learning experience but it has also played a significant role in helping me overcome imposter syndrome. Initially, I harbored deep-seated fears of inadequacy and doubted my abilities to contribute meaningfully to the research team. However, working closely with Associate Professor Hill and the other researchers in the PATH Lab, has gradually dispelled these insecurities. Their unwavering support, guidance, and belief in my potential have bolstered my self-confidence and shattered the illusion of being an imposter. Through their mentorship, I have realized that my unique perspectives and insights are valued contributions to the scientific community. The collaborative environment fostered by Associate Professor Hill and the team has encouraged open discussions and exchanging ideas, nurturing an atmosphere where I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts and actively engaging in scientific discourse. As a result, I have gained a newfound sense of empowerment and belief in my capabilities, enabling me to approach my own project with enthusiasm and a genuine sense of belonging. The transformative effect of this supportive environment has been immeasurable in shaping my journey as a researcher, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunities provided by the program and the remarkable individuals with whom I have had the privilege to work.